South America’s largest solar park built with Chinese funding and technology has opened in Argentina and has hopes of powering over 160,000 homes. Cauchari Solar Park is located atop the Puna plateau at 4,020 metres above sea level, near the town of Cauchari, which borders neighbouring Bolivia and Chile.
Argentina has been aspiring to boost its renewable energy generation, and the $390 million solar park project is a part of this plan. The solar park consists of three smaller parks and has a generating capacity of around 100 megawatts (MW) each. In this context, over 1.18 million solar panels have been distributed across an area of 800 hectares. Led by the Chinese company Shanghai Electric Power Construction, the project was 85% funded by the Export-Import Bank of China and the local government provided the balance of 15% of the funds.
According to President Mauricio Macri, Cauchari has helped to create 1,200 jobs for residents and indigenous people. He reiterated via a video call at the inauguration ceremony of the solar park that the park was just a taste of what the locals could offer to the rest of the country. He added that it was just the beginning as Jujuy’s solar energy generating capacity was almost infinite.
The inauguration ceremony also saw the presence of Argentina’s Chief of Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Pena, Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales, and Secretary of Energy Gustavo Lopetegui. Pena highlighted that the Sino-Argentine initiative proved that it could contribute to the diversification of the energy matrix, produce electricity, and also generate jobs. Meanwhile, project officials confirmed that the photovoltaic plant would cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 325,000 tons.